What is integrative medical care? Well, it’s a lot of things! Allow us to paint a picture for you…
You go to your primary care doctor with a handful of complaints: headaches, stomach pain, upper back pain, and shoulder pain. Your doctor does a work up and prescribes you something for your headaches and muscular pain. He then refers you to a physical therapist for your upper back pain, and refers you to an orthopedic surgeon for your shoulder pain. FINALLY he sends you to be evaluated by a gastroenterologist for your Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). After all these referrals, is anything your doctor did wrong? Well no, not necessarily.
What you are left with, however, is a trip to the pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, 3 visits per week for 4-8 weeks at a physical therapist, a visit with an orthopedic surgeon (who will most likely want to order an MRI on your shoulder), and a 1-3 month wait to see the gastroenterologist. One visit to primary care has led to you now seeing at least 4 additional health care facilities.
Now, here you are, the same fictitious patient, at an integrative medical clinic. You present with the same complaints of headaches, stomach pain, upper back pain, and shoulder pain. You undergo both a medical and a separate chiropractic evaluation. The two providers then meet to discuss and collaborate on your condition, and come up with a combined treatment approach. They find that all of the complaints can actually be linked together. There is nothing structurally wrong with the shoulder; no ligaments or muscles are torn, and the shoulder pain is caused by the same mechanism that is causing the upper back pain and headaches. Furthermore, as is most often true, the headaches are multifactorial, related to poor diet, stress, bad posture, food intolerances, bad sleep hygiene, muscular tension, trigger points, and TMJ dysfunction. One location, all your problems solved.
This situation is fictitious, but we treat people in these conditions all the time. Integrative care is about more than just convenience. It is about considering the entire patient, not simply her symptoms, and developing a plan not just to cover symptoms with medication, but to get to the root cause of all of her issues.